i) I’ve completed The Collected works of Leo Tolstoi, a book I’ve mentioned before.
The book has 728 pages and it also has a big variance in quality. It spans from boring to excellent, but even if the lit-profs would have you think otherwise, there’s no way around the fact that the years have been rather hard on some of it, particularly when it comes to the short stories (called ‘tales’ in the book). That said, I liked the abridged version of Anne Karenine as well as some of the novellas the best, and they are excellent; I think I shall have to get the full version of the former at some point, it’s amazingly well written.
ii) I’ve read some more of Origin… by Darwin, mentioned in the link above as well. I hate to read books online, so it’s going rather slowly, I’ve still only read a couple hundred pages by now.
iii) I’ve read the second installment in Peter Øvig Knudsen’s project Blekingegadebanden, Den hårde kerne. It’s a good read, but I don’t have the book with me at the moment so I don’t feel comfortable discussing it [danske læsere henvises til Jalving's anmeldelse på berlingske].
iv) Leland Yeager, The fluttering Veil – Essays on monetary disequilibrium. It’s been on my shelf for more than a year, but I’ve simply not gotten around to reading it until now.
I thought it was a good read, but people who do not have some degree of training in economics and know a little about monetary theory will not get much out of it. I am probably myself in the lower quadrant of the skill-spectrum of those who stands to benefit from reading this book. Of course the book is a collection of essays, so there’s some variation as to how difficult/accessible the different sections are, but be that as it may, it still isn’t a book for the average 12.th grader.
As it is, I find that it would be much too far-reaching for me to make a long post about this book, and where I agree and disagree with Yeager, so it shall suffice for me to say that if you find monetary theory interesting, this is not a bad place to start looking a little deeper into it. On the whole though, I very much liked Yeager’s emphasis on monetary disequilibrium, as I have always found the ‘always equilibrium’/'instant clearing in the money markets’-assumption in most macro models, well, problematic. Besides from that I don’t have much to say, perhaps I’ll discuss a particular subject or two treated in the book later, but no promises.
1. Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2 percent per year. After 5 years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
a. More than $102
b. Exactly $102
c. Less than $102
d. Do not know
2. Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1 percent per year and inflation was 2 percent per year. After 1 year, would you be able to buy more than, exactly the same as, or less than today with the money in this account?
a. More than today
b. Exactly the same as today
c. Less than today
d. Do not know
3. Do you think that the following statement is true or false? “Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”
c. Do not know
Those three questions are the ones that Lusardi, along with Olivia Mitchell of Penn, have been inserting in a variety of major U.S. surveys. In a new working paper titled “Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice?”, Lusardi writes that among respondents age 50 and older, only half of them got the first two answers right and only one-third of them got all three answers right.
I’d love to see some Danish numbers on this…
While prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a behavior. Generally, discriminatory behavior is the result of a prejudicial attitude. However, this is not always the case. Ones behavior is, in large measure, a product of ones beliefs. Individuals generally act consistently with their inner values and convictions. However, there are other more external motivating factors which also influence an individual’s behavior. Some of these external factors result from particular societal influences distinct from ones own beliefs. In other words, just as not every prejudicial attitude or belief results in a hostile action, not every discriminatory practice is the result of personal prejudice.
There are examples of racism and sexism that result not so much from an active, hostile personal prejudice as from specific institutional practices that discriminate. These exist even where there is no actual intent on the part of a specific person to discriminate against a group. Consider the law enforcement agency that has as part of its physical requirements, a minimum and maximum height requirement: no less than 5′ 10″, no more than 6′ 3″. If these height requirements were not specifically related to the normal, everyday demands of the job, but intended to exclude certain nationalities as well as women, they would be discriminatory: racist and sexist. Even if this discrimination was not intended, the allegation of discrimination could be made. And so racism could be defined in two ways: It is the individuals prejudicial attitude and discriminatory behavior toward people of a given race, or it is an institutional practice, even if not motivated by prejudice, that subordinates people of a given race. Likewise sexism can be viewed in the same fashion. It can be either the individuals prejudicial attitude and discriminatory behavior toward people of a given sex, or an institutional practice, even if not motivated by prejudice, that subordinates people of a given sex.
From this gem: Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection. Very enlightening.
The federal government took control of Pasadena-based IndyMac Bank on Friday in what regulators called the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history.
That’s Friday a week ago, but I didn’t know about it, I must have missed it somehow – more here, via. Glenn Reynolds.
“In a speech yesterday here in Washington, Al Gore challenged the United States to “produce every kilowatt of electricity through wind, sun, and other Earth-friendly energy sources within 10 years. This goal is achievable, affordable, and transformative.” (Well, the goal is at least one of those things.) Gore compared the zero-carbon effort to the Apollo program. And the comparison would be economically apt if, rather than putting a man on the moon—which costs about $100 billion in today’s dollars—President Kennedy’s goal had been to build a massive lunar colony, complete with a casino where the Rat Pack could perform.“
Link, via CafeHayek.
I also really like Arnold Kling’s take on Gore’s idea: for the same folks that can give us a risk-free financial system, affordable housing, universal health care, and everyone getting a college degree, it should be a piece of cake.
I have done it before, I shall do it again unless I am told otherwise. Original game in bold, annotations in italics:
‘Kunik’ (anonymous Polish player, server rating 2125) – ‘US’, friendly game of blitz, 3+0, Van ‘t Kruijs Opening:
8.Ne2…Qe7 (I didn’t play the opening correctly here, having been taken completely off guard by that weird first move. If the queen is to move to the open e-file, it should do so with a check – instead, in the game I move my Queen to an open file after first having blocked the check myself with my own bishop. Stupid – to make matters even better, the bishop is obviously not needed on the e6-square, as white has chosen not to play c4 early on.),
9.c3…h6 (I very much disliked the idea of Bg5),
14.Bxd6…cxd6 (Qxd6 is probably a bit stronger, but if that was my intention to begin with then why would I have moved the rook to the c-file? It seems to me that the weak c-pawn gives reasonable compensation for the double pawns)
30.Nf3…g4 (the computer suggests Ng3+ here, and it’s certainly better for black, ie. 31.Ke1 (forced, 31.fxg3??…Ne3+! and if 31.Kg8 the bishop is lost)…Na3, 32.Qd3…Nxe2, 33.Qxe2…Nb1, 34.Qxe6…fxe6
- this should probably be won for black)
…Qh4? (Qf5!! and it would have been game over, as the white Queen is lost no matter what white does, ie. 33.Nf3…Ng3+ or Bd3…Ne6+ – alas, I didn’t find this move during the game. Likewise, Ncd2+ would have won as white is forced to sac the Queen for a knight in order to avoid forced mate, ie. 33.Ke1…Qxg2, 34.Bd3…(Bh5…Qf1++)Qg1+, 35.Ke2…Qf1+, 36.Ke3…Qf2++)
35.Ke2…d5 (once again, the g3-check is strong),
38.Ne5…Nxg3! (finally I found it!)
Time, 0-1 (I had 34 seconds left)
Til dem der ikke allerede ved det: TV2 Zulu sender Twin Peaks i aften klokken 22.10. På oversigten står der det er afsnit #2, så de må have sendt første (dobbelt?)afsnit ved en tidligere lejlighed. Det er dog på ingen måde for sent at hoppe på.
Jeg gav i sin tid serien 10 ud af 10 på imdb. Den eneste anden serie der har haft den ære er Hanks’ og Spielberg’s Band Of Brothers. Serien er i høj grad anbefalelsesværdig.
Det lader til at Zulu også de følgende fredage vil følge Special Agent Dale Cooper, Horne-familien og The Log Lady tæt. Som sagt, det er ikke for sent at hoppe på. Her kan du finde resumeer af (blandt andet, lad ikke øjnene løbe for hurtigt ned ad siden) de første tre afsnit, så du ikke er helt fortabt.
One reason we might have a “health care crisis” and rising medical costs is that we turn away almost 97% of the applicants to medical schools.
Here’s the link.
I started wondering if I’d ever linked to this post before or written about the subject, and I decided that I ought to correct the mistake in case I hadn’t.
The short story: Where it is difficult to believe a thing, it is often much easier to believe that you ought to believe it.
Daniel Dennett has termed the belief that believing in X is ‘good’, ‘proper’, ‘virtuous’… – ‘belief in belief‘. According to Dennett, most people in the West don’t believe in God, what they believe is that they ought to believe in God. They believe in belief. Follow the links for more.
Oh, and yes, I know that a lot of atheists believe in belief too, just with opposite signs (‘people ought not to believe in God’). But there’s no need to add this observation in the comments or discussing it there, that observation has no influence on the validity of Dennett’s claim.
I’d never heard about it before, well not the name anyway, but it’s a good advice.
Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
I would of course add …or ignorance.
I have previously written about how the ‘assume correct god’ objection destroys Pascal’s argument for believing in ‘God’ in principle. I’ll delve a bit deeper into this topic in the following. A particular feature of the model I first had in mind when discussing the subject was that I implicitly assumed an expected post-life utility of 0. You go to hell, that’s infinitely bad, you go to heaven, that’s infinitely wonderful, no gods means no afterlive, so all in all that would point to an expected post-life utility of zero. Believing in a God doesn’t change that, so no point in doing that. But is this argument correct? Let’s look a bit closer at the likelihoods.
The a prior expected post-life utility P(U) is: P(heaven)*U(heaven) – P(hell)*U(hell). [we don't need the 'no god' scenario in this calculation, just let U('afterlife' given no god)=0]
The utilities cancel out in the equation. But do the probabilities necessarily cancel out? I’d like to ponder this question a bit in the following.
The first thing to consider is that by picking monotheist god X, you loose the chance to bet on god Y (because god Y like God X do not like polytheists. We don’t consider the ‘no-hell’ alternatives here, they are not interesting). But if there’s an infinite amount of (potential) monotheist gods, which there is, it would seem that you would be ill adviced to bet on any of them. At first glance, it looks as if you pick a monotheist god, the likelihood of going to hell is infinity minus epsilon. If you assume that the likelihood of going to hell if you don’t believe is = 1, then of course you’re better off with a god than without one, but a difference of epsilon isn’t really anything to cheer about considering the outlook. The message here is: Pascal really should have focused more on hell, he really shouldn’t have wasted his time on heaven, the likelihood of any of us going to heaven given the above considerations is lower than the likelihood of me winning every lottery in Denmark for the next 100 years without ever buying a lottery ticket.
No, picking just one god doesn’t give you many winning chances at the lottery. So how do we improve the odds? Well, polytheism is a place to start. Picking at least a few different Gods would surely be a better idea than to stick with just one, that way you get to hedge your bet a little. But only a little. And you still have the problem that the monotheists might be right. Not only you might pick the wrong 10 gods, you still have the problem with the infinite amount of monotheist gods to deal with. This of course also leads back to an additional consideration when it comes to monotheism: By picking one god, you not only risk pissing off all the other monotheist gods, you might also anger Zeus and Vishnu. Yes, the likelihood of going to hell would still in such a model be 1 minus epsilon, but it sort of puts things in perspective, no? The other side of this coin is that even if you’re a polytheist, you can’t hedge your bet 100% by picking ‘all gods’ – even if you pick all the possible polytheist gods (which of course would be impossible) there would still be that infinite amount of annoying monotheist gods to deal with. Besides, for every ‘openminded/tolerant’ polytheist god you can think of, I can think of just as many that would never accept you worshipping both Odin and Zeus. Actually, the ‘hedging’ you’re doing isn’t really hedging at all, you just exchange one set of risks with another, without changing the overall risk level at all.
Now, it’s probably not true that the game is rigged so that we have such a low chance of picking the right God. God rigged the game himself, and for every god that invents a system rigged like this, I can think of a god that would rig it differently. So the problem of our low chance of success, which leads to an E(U-afterlife) much lower than zero, can thus be solved by stating the obvious fact that for every vindictive and egocentrical god that demands you worship him (/her) in order for you to go on to ‘eternal happiness’, there are just as many that just don’t give a damn what you do ‘down here’, they let you ‘move on’ no matter how much you abuse them during your life. In this way the expected post-life utility of zero can be restored.
One last thing to note. If any of the popular gods are true, those gods are necessarily ‘evil’ in that they all send a majority of humans to hell, keep on reincarnating us, or whatever else it is they do to punish us when we misbehave and don’t follow the divine plan, do as we’re told or whatever. Either your God-model, with a God that punishes unbelievers, is true, or God is good. You can’t have it both ways, for if you disagree, what we disagree about is the meaning of the word ‘good’. And if your model of God is the real deal, then that God to me is a terrible [something]. No matter which one(s): Pretty much all the Gods we humans have invented so far are a bunch of scumbags.
…Even now the Cossack families claim relationsship with the Chechens, and the love of freedom, of leisure, of plunder and of war, still form their chief characteristics. Only the harmful side of Russian influence is apparent – by interference at elections, by confiscation of church bells, and by the troops who are quartered in the country, or march through it.
A Cossack is inclined to hate less the dzhigit hillsman, who maybe has killed his brother, than the soldier quartered on him to defend his village, but who has defiled his hut with tobacco smoke. He respects his enemy the hillsman, and despises the soldier; who is in his eyes an alien and an oppressor. In reality, from a Cossack’s point of view, a Russian peasant is a foreign, savage, despeciable creature, of whom he sees a sample in the hawkers who come to the country, and in the Little-Russian immigrants whom the Cossack contemptously calls “woolbeaters”.
When I read the above passage, the word ‘Iraq’ just popped into my head. I wonder why…
This is news to me, even if some of you probably knew about it already. A long article with lots of interesting links is available here.
Miljøbeskyttelsesloven, kapitel 2:
§ 7. Miljøministeren kan fastsætte regler om:
1) forurening fra virksomheder, anlæg, maskiner, redskaber, fyringsanlæg og transportmidler,
2) indretning, drift og vedligeholdelse af de virksomheder m.v., der er nævnt i nr. 1,
3) forurening fra spildevandsanlæg, rensningsanlæg, forbrændingsanstalter og anlæg for deponering af affald samt indretning, drift, vedligeholdelse, nedlukning og efterbehandling af sådanne anlæg,
4) renhedsgraden af og tilsætning af stoffer til brændstoffer, der anvendes til opvarmning eller drift af transportmidler og maskiner,
5) at bestemte anlæg, maskiner, redskaber og transportmidler skal være af godkendt type,
6) at anlæg, indretninger eller apparater, herunder måleapparatur, der er beregnet til anvendelse i forureningsbegrænsende øjemed, skal være af godkendt type,
7) risikobetonede processer samt oplagring og transport af stoffer med farlige egenskaber som nævnt i § 2, stk. 2,
8 ) anmeldelse til tilsynsmyndigheden af virksomhedens eller anlæggets anvendelse af råvarer, hjælpestoffer og andre materialer samt af udledninger til vand, jord og luft i forbindelse med virksomhedens eller anlæggets drift, herunder af frembringelsen af affald,
9) anmeldelse om midlertidig placering og anvendelse af anlæg, transportmidler, mobile anlæg, maskiner og redskaber, der kan medføre forurening, herunder om vilkår for sådanne placeringer og anvendelse,
10) bioteknologisk anvendelse af mikroorganismer, herunder om alle former for udledning til miljøet, og
11) anvendelse af husdyrgødning og anden organisk gødning i jordbruget med henblik på at beskytte vandløb, søer og havet samt grundvandet mod forurening.
Stk. 2. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om en frivillig konsulentordning for virksomhederne i forbindelse med gennemførelse af regler efter stk. 1, herunder om autorisation af konsulenterne samt om gebyrer til dækning af udgifterne ved autorisationsordningen.
Stk. 3. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om,
1) at personer i ledelsen af bestemte forurenende anlæg skal have den hertil fornødne tekniske viden og eventuelt bevis herfor, og
2) at personale, der betjener bestemte forurenende anlæg, skal have bevis for at have modtaget undervisning i miljømæssig og teknisk forsvarlig drift af anlæggene, herunder om undervisningens indhold og om kravene til opnåelse af beviset.
Stk. 4. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om, at andre myndigheder eller private organisationer skal udøve nærmere fastlagte beføjelser om typegodkendelse og fabrikationskontrol af de i stk. 1, nr. 5 og 6, nævnte anlæg, maskiner, indretninger m.v.
Stk. 5. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om betaling for myndigheders og private organisationers behandling af ansøgninger om typegodkendelse af de i stk. 1, nr. 5 og 6, nævnte anlæg, maskiner og indretninger m.v. For betaling opkrævet af de i stk. 4 nævnte myndigheder finder bestemmelserne i § 88 anvendelse.
Stk. 6. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om adgangen til at klage over afgørelser truffet af de i stk. 4 nævnte myndigheder og private organisationer, herunder at afgørelser truffet af de i stk. 4 nævnte myndigheder ikke kan indbringes for anden administrativ myndighed.
§ 7 a. Miljøministeren kan fastsætte regler om den ansvarliges pligt til for egen regning at gennemføre egenkontrol af virksomheder, anlæg og indretninger m.v. eller for egen regning at lade egenkontrollen gennemføre af sagkyndige, herunder af autoriserede, akkrediterede eller lignende sagkyndige og tilsvarende laboratorier.
Stk. 2. Ministeren kan fastsætte nærmere regler om autorisationsordninger, der vedrører gennemførelsen af egenkontrol, herunder om hvilke opgaver der skal udføres af de autoriserede personer, og om administration af autorisationsordninger. Ministeren kan ligeledes fastsætte nærmere regler om tildeling samt tilbagekaldelse af autorisationer, herunder om at tilbagekaldelse skal kunne forlanges indbragt for domstolene, og om kontrol med det eftersyn, som de autoriserede personer udøver. Autorisation kan nægtes, såfremt den pågældende har forfalden gæld til det offentlige på 50.000 kr. eller derover, og autorisation kan tilbagekaldes, såfremt den autoriserede har forfalden gæld til det offentlige på 100.000 kr. eller derover eller gør sig skyldig i grov eller oftere gentagen forsømmelighed. Afgørelse om nægtelse eller tilbagekaldelse af autorisation skal indeholde oplysning om adgangen til at begære afgørelsen indbragt for domstolene og fristen herfor.
Stk. 3. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om gebyrer for administration af autorisationsordninger, herunder kursusgebyrer, klagegebyrer samt gebyrer for afgivelse af udtalelse, jf. stk. 5. Gebyrerne kan anvendes til hel eller delvis dækning af omkostninger ved autorisationsordningernes administration. Gebyrerne opkræves efter bestemmelserne i § 88.
Stk. 4. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om, at andre myndigheder eller private organisationer skal udøve nærmere fastlagte beføjelser om
1) de i stk. 1 og 2 nævnte autorisationsordninger og
2) de i stk. 3 nævnte gebyrordninger.
Stk. 5. Ministeren kan fastsætte regler om adgangen til at klage over afgørelser truffet af de i stk. 4 nævnte myndigheder og private organisationer og om de nævnte myndigheders og private organisationers pligt til at afgive udtalelse om de autoriseredes virksomhed.
Stk. 6. Ministeren kan forlods foretage udlæg af midler til midlertidig dækning af autorisationsordningers administration med henblik på igangsættelse af sådanne ordninger.
Jojo, det er da rart med et rent miljø. Men mængden af lovgivning på det her område, og den magt politikerne har givet sig selv, er helt vanvittig. Det handler ikke længere om miljø, det handler om magt. Magt til politikerne.
Jeg gav i går udtryk for, at ‘religionsfriheden’ ikke i sig selv bør være et kort, folk kan trække frem og dermed automatisk trumfe alle andre hensyn. Det samme gælder ‘miljøhensyn’. Ikke at jeg alvorligt bilder mig selv ind, at befolkningens holdning har nogen betydning længere, miljølovgivningen fik sit helt eget liv for længe siden. Alene omfanget af den eksisterende lovgivning gør det umuligt for en privatperson at sætte sig fornuftigt ind i hele lovkomplekset, og med den magt politikerne allerede har tilranet sig på dette område, vil det kun blive værre over tid. Den eneste ‘positive’ udvikling, jeg kan forestille mig realistisk vil kunne ske fremover, er at lovgivningen i stigende grad ikke vil blive håndhævet. Der vil ikke blive mindre af den, tværtimod.
The amazing Darwin-site Tyler Cowen made me aware of a while ago now has a Danish translation of The origin of Species… online, just click the link.
2. Collected works of Leo Tolstoi.
After I’d read Dostoevsky’s Rodion Raskolnikov I became quite interested in digging a little deeper into the big body of Russian litterature, and here we are. Incidentally I doubt you would be able to find an edition of the same book I’m reading, even if you’d know where to look; it’s very old and it is not available on amazon. So far I’ve read a lot of short stories (first ~120 pages) as well as The Death of Ivan Ilyitch, Polikushka, Two Hussars and The Kreutzer Sonata. The book of course does not include War and Peace, but an abridged version of Anne Karenina is included in the work. There’s still a long way to go.
- 180 grader
- alfred brendel
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Bent Jensen
- Bill Bryson
- Bill Watterson
- Claude Berri
- current affairs
- Dan Simmons
- David Copperfield
- david lynch
- den kolde krig
- Dinu Lipatti
- Douglas Adams
- economic history
- Edward Grieg
- Eliezer Yudkowsky
- Ezra Levant
- Filippo Pacini
- financial regulation
- Flemming Rose
- foreign aid
- Franz Kafka
- freedom of speech
- Friedrich von Flotow
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Game theory
- Garry Kasparov
- George Carlin
- george enescu
- global warming
- Grahame Clark
- harry potter
- health care
- isaac asimov
- Jane Austen
- John Stuart Mill
- Jon Stewart
- Joseph Heller
- karl popper
- Khan Academy
- knowledge sharing
- Leland Yeager
- Marcel Pagnol
- Maria João Pires
- Mark Twain
- Martin Amis
- Martin Paldam
- mikhail gorbatjov
- Mikkel Plum
- Morten Uhrskov Jensen
- Muzio Clementi
- Nikolai Medtner
- North Korea
- nuclear proliferation
- nuclear weapons
- Ole Vagn Christensen
- Oscar Wilde
- Pascal's Wager
- Paul Graham
- people are strange
- public choice
- rambling nonsense
- random stuff
- Richard Dawkins
- Rowan Atkinson
- Saudi Arabia
- science fiction
- Sun Tzu
- Terry Pratchett
- The Art of War
- Thomas Hobbes
- Thomas More
- walter gieseking
- William Easterly